Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thrums, thrums and more thrums

The change in the weather has brought about a change in knitting priorities around here. The wild fluctuations in temperatures, including a fleeting flirtation with frost last weekend, has induced me to set aside the two sweaters for myself and start the winter mitten knitting marathon I've been putting off all summer.

I pulled this pattern from Interweave Knits, Winter 2006. I knitted a swatch from the pattern sometime last winter but never quite got around to making them. Mostly because the wool yarns I had on hand were a bit scratchy and not quite the right colors to please the three finicky females who reside in this domicile. I just didn't feel the impetus to make something for girls who might not wear them because they weren't the "right" color.

The new yarn, though, is a soft as the proverbial baby's bottom and the girls all picked their favorite color, as well as the fleece for the thrums. With adequate feminine approval and an internal sense of impending doom cold weather, I cast on yesterday morning.

I love how quick to knit the first mitten for little Peeps turned out to be. Making the thrums turned out to take nearly as long as the knitting itself. I made a big pile, counted them, then doubled the size of the pile. As I work on the second mitten, though, I am quickly running short of thrums and will need to make more before I can finish this pair. I intend to count the total number of thrums on the first pair in order to calculate more accurately how many I'll need for the next pair. Since I had to modify the pattern slightly to accommodate the miniature hands of pixie-sized Peepster, I'll have to make even more thrums for Bubba's mittens, since hers will be full-sized. Alas, I fear I'll be making thrums for days and days, since each pair of mittens will get larger, as I work my way up the child "size" ladder.

Beyond the time consuming nature of thrum making, I also have to admit that I am not fond of the afterthought thumb design on this pattern. While I concede that it is easier to maintain the thrum patterning without taking gusset increases into account, it just doesn't fit as nicely as I would like.

Needless to say, I will probably redesign the next pair of mittens to include a thumb gusset. I'll need to do some calculations to figure out the thrum placement but beyond that, I don't see any reason why it would be difficult to re-work the pattern to suit me.

Now, for some comment housekeeping:

Trek asked how large the Hemlock Ring Blanket measured. It is just over 3 feet in diameter. It wasn't quite as large as I'd hoped but when it is bunched up on a circular needle, it is kind of hard to figure out how large it will be. It was the full charted size of Brooklyn Tweed's pattern adaptation but my gauge was different. It is a nice size to toss around my shoulders while sitting in my knitting chair but too small to be an actual lap blanket. I'm even thinking it would make a great baby blanket for a little boy.

Guinifer asked what pattern I was using for my latest sweater project. It is from the latest Vogue Knitting Magazine. The pattern doesn't have a catchy name but is on page 144. I've been looking at a couple sweaters that have this unique construction technique and was anxious to give it a try. The ribbed background seem to be the most flattering style for my rather buxom physique, so I'm giving it a shot. I have no idea, really, how flattering this will be on me but the yarn was really cheap, so I might as well experiment. If it doesn't look good, all I've lost is my time and I will have gained a lot of understanding of this unusual garment construction technique.

Well, off to school my munchkins. The hamster wheel never stops around here. If the squeaking sound you hear stops with a noisy crash, that'll be me falling off. OY!

(edited to add: Rani, thrums are little tufts of unspun fiber. You start with a 6 or 8 inch long wisp of roving, fold both ends to the middle and roll between your fingers. I added a little moisture to semi-felt the center strand that was created. You end up with a 3-5 inch long "bow-tie" of thrum. You then knit these tufts into the mitten at pre-determined pattern, keeping the fluffy ends to the inside of the mitten. These tufts will insulate the mitten. You can see a detailed description here or here.)


Rani said...

What the heck is a thrumb?

LOVE the color of the mitten!

trek said...

Yeah, it would be a great wrap for a small one - then it could get promoted to a Linus-type carry around security blanket!

Tonyia said...

Hey, I made thrummed mittens a few years ago, only my pattern had you tear your roving into long, thin strips and leave them in long pieces. Then you just knit them in, like two color knitting. It sure beat tearing all those individual thrums! They made the WARMEST mittens - we loved 'em.

Your colors are gorgeous and you'll love these mittens in the winter!

Guinifer said...

Yea - my hamster wheel is in the car. So. Tired. Thanks for the pattern reference - I really like the color. Is that one of your Webs cone purchases?

Sheepish Annie said...

Those are fabulous! I tell myself every summer that I am going to think ahead and knit up the warm stuff for winter, but I always seem to get off track somehow.

I like to say, "thrum." That will probably be my word 'o the day tomorrow. This will drive my staff crazy! hee-hee...

livnletlrn said...

I swear I'm not stalking your knitting -- just so I can copy it, y'know ;-) -- but I actually have had this exact pattern and some yarn for it in my knitting bag for about a week, in case I got a chance to cast on. I haven't, but I will eventually! Good to know about the afterthought thumb. I think I'd prefer a gusset too. Leah knit a pair of thrummed mittens a while back and we weren't completely thrilled with them (the gusset was fine, but the thrums were too far apart), so hopefully I can combine the two patterns and come up with exactly what we'll love.

Rani said...

Lori, you are my Obi Wan Kenobe of knitting! Always will be.

And the thruming (I checked the links) looks really cool, but doesn't it get all bunched up inside around sweaty little fingers?

ps. Major cabling project on my radar screen